October 3, 2019
Mroz Wins Prestigious Theology Essay Prize

Kathleen Mroz, Ph.D., assistant professor of theology and religious studies, has been awarded the prestigious Tijdschrift Voor Theologie Essay Prize from Leuven University in Belgium for her essay, "When the 'Sacrament of Salvation' Needs Saving: Schillebeeckx as a Resource for Theologians Responding to the Clergy Sex Abuse Crisis."

 In addition to a €1,000 award, her essay will be translated into Dutch and published in Tijdschrift voor Theologie. She was also invited to attend the award ceremony this month in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

Tijdschrift voor Theologie organizes this biennial essay contest for young theologians and religious studies scholars (maximum age of contestants is 35) in cooperation with the Edward Schillebeeckx Foundation. Essays provide an innovative reflection on a subject concerning the relation between theology and culture, from the point of view of either theology, philosophy of religion, religious studies, or any other academic discipline with relevance to the study of religion.  

According to the Edward Schillebeeckx Foundation website, "the theologian Edward Schillebeeckx has played and is still playing a major role in ecclesiastic and theological renewal. Through his scientific studies and applied scientific pastoral books, sermons and lectures he is able to inspire a wide reading public, not only within the Christian churches but also outside them."  

Dr. Mroz, who also studied Schillebeeckx's soteriology for her doctoral dissertation, explores the understanding of "salvation," among other important and timely discussions in her award-winning entry.  

"According to Edward Schillebeeckx, in a time of urgent need, alternative praxis may possess an 'inherent apostolicity' even before it is sanctioned by the Magisterium. The release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report in August 2018 documenting several decades of clergy sexual abuse indicates that the Church is in a time of 'urgent need.' While it does not offer a clear solution, this essay explores how Schillebeeckx's soteriology and ecclesiology may be a valuable resource for Catholic theologians who seek to respond to the present situation in which many people no longer experience the Church as a 'sacrament of salvation,' and are starting to believe that the only way forward is to leave the Church behind. First, it discusses the Church as the sacrament of dialogue, and how the Church might benefit from dialogue with secularism. Second, it talks about Schillebeeckx's understanding of the term 'salvation,' that is to be understood as something more than just getting to heaven, but truly involves what is going on in this world. Finally, it illustrates how the notion of the negative contrast experience may be a helpful way of framing the issues currently going on in the Catholic Church."

Headshot of Kathleen Mroz Assistant Professor of Theology & Religious Studies Kathleen Mroz

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